Going to Abu Simbel
The French Connection
Hotels Abu Simbel
How do people do it? We were up at 7am this morning. It was awful. The kids were already at the school next door, and starting their morning chants. We heard this the other mornings as well, but rolled over and went back to sleep. Today we couldn’t. We need to catch a local bus out to Abu Simbel, and we have no idea when they depart. So the earlier the better.
We were allowed to ditch most of our luggage at the hotel, and just taking a small bag of essentials we made our way down to the Cornish (The main road along the Nile) to catch a minibus to the main bus stop. Our first surprise of the day happened here. A bus stopped right in front of us just as we reached the road. It was even going to the station. Jumping on, we set out into the unknown. The station happened to be a little past the Mosque that we had walked to on our arrival in Aswan. If we had gone another 500m we would have found it! When we pulled up, we paid our 2 LE and he helpfully pointed us in the right direction.
Another man picked us up and took us to where the mini bus was waiting to go to Abu Simbel. There were 3 French people already there waiting. We found out that the bus would not take them, and started negotiating for a different ride. There was one man here determined to make our lives harder than need be. He started off with 150LE each one way. On trying to explain that we could have taken the tour organised by the hotel for 75LE he made it return. This was not the point. We just wanted to take the local bus out there. He then dropped his price to about 130LE. I don’t think he heard a word we were saying. Then to our amazement the price started going up. I thought that when you haggle, your price goes up, and theirs down. Here it just went up and up. Each time it got higher. We did find out there was a large bus that goes at 8:30am (It had been cancelled) and another at 5pm. Then another guy stepped in and offered us a ride for 30LE each one way. This was good, and we grabbed the others to take this lift. By now we had been joined by an Asian girl going out for the day. On the group getting to his vehicle it went to 40LE and when asking why it went to 50LE and didn’t move from there. This is still basically the same as the tour,as we have no idea what they will charge for our return! By now the old bus had left, and a new one pulled up. Asking this driver, he said 30LE each. No problem. So we all piled into the bus, reconfirmed the price (and it stayed the same!) and settled back to wait. The other guy now kept sticking his head in the window saying it was illegal to take the bus, and that we would get in trouble with the police. He also dropped his price to 30LE each as he had said before, but he had blown his chance. We have heard about the restrictions before, but have never heard of anyone having a problem after actually finding a ride. As we half filled the bus, it was not long before we were on our way.
Driving out we encountered the “dreaded tourist police, that will make our lives hard if we take the mini bus!” They were on the other side of the old dam wall. They did stop the bus though, and asked the nationalities of the tourists. Then let us go. Probably out of curiosity more than anything else. The drive is a good three to four hours, and a lot of it is not that interesting.
Power lines across the desert, the occasional cement factory and about half way a road house. We stopped there for about half an hour then on again. The desert is much different to the Australian desert where we lived, and the Moroccan deserts. This is mostly flat, but at some point we started passing lots of small hills. Some of these looked like ancient volcanoes or even pyramids, but are naturally formed (we think, as we couldn’t get out to have a look at them). It broke up the monotonous monochrome landscape and gave us something to look at.
Eventually we arrived in Abu Simbel town. It is a small quiet place, only a few main streets and the temples. Now we needed to find some accommodation.
We had our out of date book, and the Frenchies had a new one. Comparing notes and picking up a tout we headed off. The first one was 250LE and out of our budget. It would have been nice when new, but now needs a bit of TLC. The second was newer and more upmarket. So was the price, and then we headed to the Abu Simbel Tourist Village. We have had better rooms than theirs for 40LE a night, but it is the cheapest in town at 150LE after the negotiating prices fluctuated we got them down to 100LE. Talking to the others, they decided to stay at the second place and enjoy some luxury. We said we would look around, and if we didn’t find anything better we would join them. Basically we looked at every hotel in town. Excluding the Seti, as we could not afford to walk past its front gate.
There is a very nice place just outside of town, and if you have the 300LE for a room, I think it would be fantastic, but not for us. Where are the complete dives when you need them? Still, we tried. The French rang us and said they were going back to the Tourist Resort, as when they got back to the other place the price had doubled! We started seriously talking about doing the temple quickly and heading back today. There was still two hours left before they closed. We thought the Asian girl had the right idea. Straight off the bus to do the temple, and back to Aswan. Yet we had wasted hours looking for a place to stay (and drinking tea, eating etc!) Heading back to where the French people were holed up, we tried one more time at the first one. They gave us the room for 150. The same price as we would get at the other place, so we took it.
Dumping our stuff we went and had a good dinner with the others, and then a walk up to the lake.
They were doing the Sound & Light Show, so we left them there to watch the sunset. It was a perfect peaceful place, and very relaxing. Heading back, we thought we had found a cafe out of the way with a good view of the lake. It turned out to be the entrance to the temple! So we bypassed it as we would see it all tomorrow.